More Calories for Faster Anorexia Recovery

Anorexia recovery faster with a higher calorie starting diet

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D. Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Anorexia is a serious eating disorder that can lead to hospitalization. Those hospitalized for it often require "re-feeding" to recover.

A recent study found that teens with anorexia recovered faster when they began receiving a higher amount of calories per day in the hospital.

Currently, the recommendation for re-feeding those with anorexia is to provide daily meals totaling 1,200 calories a day. Re-feeding means that a person with anorexia is provided with a formula to replenish their body with nourishment and nutrients.

This study showed that those teens who began receiving more calories per day at the start of their treatment left the hospital sooner and gained weight faster.

"Discuss your child's anorexia treatment plan with their doctor."

This study, led by Andrea K. Garber, PhD, RD, of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, looked at the most effective approaches to feeding patients with anorexia.

The researchers investigated the outcomes of 56 anorexic teenagers who had been admitted to the hospital for malnutrition between 2002 and 2012.

The teens, with an average age of 16, were hospitalized for an average of 15 days.

During their hospital stay, the teens' weight, heart rate, temperature, indicators for hydration and level of phosphorus in their blood were tracked.

One group of 28 teens began being re-fed with a formula and were given 1,764 calories per day.

The other group of 28 teens started being re-fed with 1,093 calories per day.

The researchers found that the teens who started out receiving a higher daily calorie amount did better in their recovery.

The teens receiving more calories gained weight at a rate approximately twice as fast each day (in small increments) as those receiving fewer calories per day.

The teens receiving more calories at first also increased their daily caloric intake by more calories per day initially.

The teens who started with a higher calorie amount increased their consumption by an average of 122 calories per day, compared to 98 calories per day among teens in the lower calorie group.

Teens receiving the higher number of calories at the start also stayed in the hospital a shorter time — an average 12 days total, compared to 18 days among those starting with lower calories.

The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Information was unavailable regarding funding and disclosures.

Review Date: 
October 10, 2013
Last Updated:
December 30, 2013